A Few Days with Leopard (Part One)

By Graham K. Rogers

Apple icon In common with others, I am assessing the first seven days that I have had Leopard installed. On some major online IT news sites, the enthusiasm for this version of OS X is widespread. However, although many users have seen successful installations, there are problems. MacFixit always covers such events. As well as suggestions for some of the perils, it lists software found to be problematic.

My MacBookPro has run fine for the last week. There were some problems with third party utilities, many of which could not be updated until Leopard's final release. Immediately after the upgrade, I found that Little Snitch (software that reports and stops outgoing signals) was not working correctly. An update (only beta) was available. Likewise, a new Macaroni, for running maintenance scripts, was downloaded. A new version of Undercover (Orbicule's tracking software) was also released.

Spaces Early in the week I updated a Mac mini that the students use. I first tried the 1.25G mini, but the installer declined: there was only 256MB of RAM. The 1.5GHz G4 mini had 512MB and that sailed through. There were no additional problems apart from similar third party software updates.

I then tried my old G4 eMac, but this was a disaster. Used more often by a friend, I failed to notice a webcam was attached. That may have affected the process.

On the restart, there was a kernel panic when the Apple registration appeared. Subsequently there were a couple more. I narrowed it down to the Ethernet connection and related software. With that, the web cam and some older software that should have been cleaned off a long time ago (plus the probability of some corrupt preferences), I decided to cut my losses and move to the Archive and Install: a method to install a new system but preserve settings and software installations.

I was out of luck. The hard disk was now down to about 7G of space and this type of install would be impossible. I was faced with trying to repair what I had or the "Erase and Install" method. As all important data was already backed up, I bit the bullet and erased the disk. That machine has now been running problem-free for a few days.

TextEdit Although there have been many changes that appear cosmetic, every time I have used these Macs in the past few days, I have found something new. Whether it be the simple addition of coordinates to the screen capture facility (command + shift + 4); QuickLook, which I now discover works in all Finder view options and not just Cover View; to the TextEdit icon which, when enlarged shows the words from an Apple advertisement: there is clearly much attention to detail here.

Indeed, if one enlarges almost any of the Apple icons, particularly the new ones like Spaces, Time Machine or Front Row, the design and detail show how much effort has been put in.

Front Row Front Row has been a feature of all Macs for a while now and is usually accessed using the remote (infrared) control. It now appears in the list of applications and can be started directly from the desktop, which is useful if the remote control has gone missing.

The interface has been changed. Before it would slide back impressively; now the screen fades and some of the icons appear. As items on the list of media are selected, so the icons move round giving access to Photos, DVDs, Music, Podcasts, Movies (including trailers) and TV Shows. There are now also settings icons. The movie trailers are accessed from the iTunes shop (along with podcasts - the only access most of us have in Thailand) and are a nice diversion. A widget is also added during the installation that allows these trailers to be viewed in a smaller format.

A few months ago, Apple released a beta for Safari, version 3 (still available for Tiger and Windows). This built on the already-familiar tabs. These are now movable: along the tab bar; off the page; and a second page could be added to the tabs on the first page. An excellent Find tool (command + F) was also introduced.

The final release of Safari 3 (3.0.4) comes with Leopard. As well as the tabs and Find, Apple has added a new feature for making instant widgets.

Dashcode On the Safari toolbar is a new icon with a pair of scissors. When this is clicked a purple bar appears at the top of the page and the display darkens. An adjustable area is used to select a part of the page and the user clicks, Add, in the purple bar. A widget is created in seconds that updates as the original page changes and retains any links. On the widget itself, pressing "i" allows a selection of frame-types to be used.

If the Developer Tools have been installed (user choice) Dashcode is included. This provides interfacing for developing more sophisticated widgets.

See also some more changes in Leopard

Made on Mac

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